2016 Alois Lageder Vigneti delle Dolomiti Manzoni Bianco ‘Forra’
Region: Vigneti delle Dolomiti <Alto Adige < Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming (Demeter); high-elevation (1500 feet) sandysoils heavy with Dolomite chalk; 10 days on skins in stainless steel, then aged on lees in large cask for 9 months, surrounded by softly piped in classical music; unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 34 cases; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Clemens Lageder
The 6thgeneration Lageder estate has been around since 1823 in the magical alpine region of Alto Adige, bordering Germany in Northern Italy. Alois Lageder is one of Italy’s OG biodynamic supporter, having started in the 90’s and converted in 2004 and doing much to promote it in Italy. He hosts an annual gathering of like-minded organic, biodynamic and natural winemakers at his estate, collaborates with farmers to help and incentivize them to convert and truly believes in the biodynamic philosophy of the estate as a living organism, self-contained and self-supporting. He even goes so far as to pipe in classical music for the wine during fermentation, letting the sound waves stimulate the yeast. I have had the great pleasure of visiting Alois at his estate several times, and have always been impressed with his innovation and thought leadership when it comes to natural practices, a commitment his son Clemens shares as he now runs the show. But the wines speak for themselves. Beautiful and balanced, pushing boundaries but keeping it clean.
Like this wine, made from Manzoni Bianco, a cross between Riesling and Pinot Bianco that has thick skins, high acid and low sugar -- making them a great fit for this area, which has a huge diurnal range (day to night temp swing) with a huge percentage of warm days in the valley (from that high-altitude sun reflecting off the steep, rocky mountains on both sides) and very cold nights. This bottle is part of Lageder’s experimental series, where they’re making micro quantities of particular wines to test every variable related to vineyard and cellar, in an effort to discover the optimal combination for each grape. Crisp and bone dry, with bracing acidity and structure, it has intense minerality softened by the round, ripe pear, and spice notes, and a perfect flinty finish. This is a serious wine that can age, if you have the strength to set it aside. They make an itsy-bitsy amount of this wine, and we got a microscopic amount, so act quickly on this one…